L.A. Councilman Calls Store’s Anti-Union Practices ‘Fresh & Sleazy’

Fresh & Easy says its Glassell Park employees have failed to hold a secret ballot election.

By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Mike Acuna as Mike Shimpock.

A handful of Northeast Los Angeles area employees backed by union allies blasted Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market for busting their effort to become unionized.

The rally in Glassell Park comes months after a majority of employees signed a petition to become a union shop under the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) labor union, according to protesters at Monday’

s rally.

Carlos Juarez and Mike Acuna, both Fresh & Easy employees and Highland Park residents, said 21 of 28 employees at the local store signed a petition supporting unionization. Instead of being recognized as a union shop, however, they claim the company has retaliated by mistreating them, cutting their hours, and subjecting them to unwarranted surveillance with security cameras.

“That commitment to unionization was something that they went to the manager with in what should have been a clear, and ‘fresh and easy’ process, but instead was rejected by the management with the decision to relocate people, to add people to their lists, to find reasons to terminate people so they no longer had a majority. That’s just wrong. That is an injustice. That is against everything we stand for,”

said Rabbi Jonathan Klein, executive director of Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) Los Angeles.

United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) joined Fresh & Easy employees to demand worker’s rights. Pictured here, Mike Acuna. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)


Fresh & Easy is saying UFCW union members, not Fresh & Easy employees at the site, are demanding the grocery store be unionized; that’

s a lie, said Juarez, a father of two. Juarez has worked at the Fresh & Easy on Eagle Rock Boulevard in Glassell Park since 2008 and wants to be represented by a union.

The international grocery chain’s starting pay is $10 an hour in California, but after working for three years at the store, Juarez and Acuna said they’

ve only received a 90-cent raise and are probably the highest paid workers at the store.

The two men say they have had loss of time injuries, as have over a dozen other employees.
John Getz, UFCW organizer, told EGP that Tesco, Fresh & Easy’

s parent company, is comparable to Walmart in prolonging unjust labor practices in order to maximize corporate profit.

Two years ago a report titled “The Two Faces of Tesco” was released at Los Angeles City Hall. The report showed that Fresh & Easy’s parent company [Tesco] had collective bargaining for employees in England but not in the US and South Korea. Council members asked Tesco to change its “anti-worker practices”

but it has not, said Jose Sigala, legislative deputy for Councilmember Richard Alarcon (CD-7).

“Tesco exemplifies the word ‘imperialism’ in its treatment of American workers by denying them the right to organize. Tesco calls its stores Fresh & Easy—a better name for the stores is Fresh & Sleazy,” Alarcon said in a written statement read by Sigala. “Let us talk with our neighbors about the reason why the stores should be called Fresh & Sleazy.”

 Speakers noted the rally took place on the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King who besides being a civil rights leader was also a labor union proponent.

Also present in a show of support were representatives for Assemblymember Anthony Portantino (District 44) and Los Angeles City Council members Jose Huizar (CD-14) and Eric Garcetti (CD-13).

Read this story IN SPANISH: Concejal Dice que ‘Fresh & Easy’ Debe Parar Prácticas Antisindicales

According to their website, Fresh & Easy offers competitive base salary, all employees are eligible for a quarterly bonus and are eligible for a comprehensive benefits package and 401(K).

“We know that to be successful, we need a very motivated workforce. We’ve created a positive, team-based culture, where everyone is treated with respect,” said Fresh & Easy spokesperson Brendan Wonnacott in a written statement. “The choice to participate in a union is a decision that only our employees can make – it is their democratic right.”
Fresh & Easy employees at Glassell Park who requested to join a union were advised to follow the National Labor Relations Act and call for a secret ballot election. “Thus far, our employees have not chosen to join a union or to pursue a secret ballot election,”

said Wonnacott.

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April 7, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


2 Responses to “L.A. Councilman Calls Store’s Anti-Union Practices ‘Fresh & Sleazy’”

  1. Economic Freedom on April 7th, 2011 7:09 pm

    All employees have the right to quit their jobs if they don’t like it. In this economy you should be lucky to have a job.

    F&E have given them options to persue unioinization that follows NLRB laws that are currently on the books.

    If they go through the motions of persuing it via secret ballot rather than intimidation tactics like this little protest in which they are silencing those who are happy with the voice they do have in directly communicating their concerns with F&E which there are many in this open door culture that F&E has.

    The one thing that the union has not done is to show a side by side comparison with compensation packages that employees would get paid with the union.

    Per the F&E website, their benifits and wages are far superior than what I received 20 years ago when I entered the marketplace. How long does it take to become vested with the benifits that the union offers? is it Months? Years? And also what is the minimum amount of hours that you must work to qualify for Union insurance? What is the amount of money that the union will take from your paycheck for dues that go towards organizing, Union representative salaries, and payments for causes that a union member might not agree with (like right to life, or Democratic polititions (or vice versa) or major pollitical campaigns that support the union ideals (LA Councilmembers???)

    I believe in taking care of yourself. Believe in the process and trust your gut. If you dont like it, move on. It’s early in the process. The union should be spending their time supporting their long time employees with companies that want to reduce their retirment benifits that they were promised and depended on years ago instead of fighting this fight with people who are entering a young organization in which they know what they are getting into.

  2. Fuck Fresh and Sleazy on April 6th, 2012 11:34 pm

    Freah ans Sleazy are just that. You can tell by the troglodites they hire, Miserable people who don’t give a crap about anyone who comes into the place. I have never felt so violated by a shopping environment. Do they really think we cannot tell that the price per pound fr meat ro cheese (even the F and Sleazy brand) is way too high? What a joke. I hope the corporation fails and everyone who has purpetuated the chain dies a horrible death. I wish I could go back in time and kill all your mothers, so you would never have been born. F MF U

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